I am a zombie.
My pleasant demeanor won’t inspire you to say that. Instead, it’s my dinner. I recently cooked brains.
Mmmmmm. Nice pink squishy brains glistening under the kitchen light. I bought these pork brains at a local international market without realizing that they aren’t healthy. The two-pound package contains at least two months’ worth of cholesterol. Maybe that’s why the undead like to eat brains; it’s the diet that killed them and they’re feeling nostalgic.
Since I’ve already spent the money for these brains, I ought to eat them. And it probably wouldn’t hurt to figure out a way to make them healthier. Per the cooking instructions I found online, I started by soaking them for an hour. If you ever do this, have a big pot handy because the water turns into slime if you don’t use enough.
Then, I drained the brains and added new water. Time to boil them for 5 minutes. The water quickly returned to a somewhat slimy state and, as the water heated up, lots of foam formed at the top. Tasty:
The water took forever to boil, probably because it had become so thick. It eventually started bubbling and, after five minutes, I was draining the water again. Yummy looking, right?
Now for the creative part. I had purchased a bottle of peanut oil to use with the brains. I chose peanut oil because it was on sale. You could use olive, vegetable, or anything else that’s healthier than cholesterol and pork fat. I pour most of the bottle into the pot with my brains and cook at a moderate temperature for about 45 minutes.
You may be wondering why I would add so much oil to a recipe if I’m trying to make it healthier. I remember seeing an article once that recommended cooking ground beef in vegetable oil. By doing that, you’re dissolving the bad fat into the oil and, when you put the meat in a colander, a lot of the unhealthy stuff is drained out. This seemed to work with the brains; after the 45 minutes, the liquid in the pot bore no resemblance to the golden peanut oil I had poured into it. I’m still waiting for my colander to forgive me, though.
Interestingly enough, the brains did not fry crispy when left in a pot of hot oil for so long. I suppose brains are the eternally squishy food and, if your home is ever attacked by zombies, you can take this dish off of your dinner table and offer the zombies a bribe that at least somewhat resembles the fresh product they’re used to. Think of it as your home’s second security system.
But I digress. After making the brains somewhat healthier, it’s time to make them suitable for consumption by living humans. You may not be aware of the fact, but people in China and Korea eat brains as part of their regular diet. I’ve also heard of European recipes; Portuguese comes to mind immediately. Instead of the basic scrambled egg with brains that most people start with, I think I’ll spice mine up a little more. (When in doubt, be inspired by the ethnicity that usually eats a product.) So: soy sauce, breast milk, ginger, onion, garlic and a little fish sauce.
Just kidding about the breast milk. What do you think I am? Some sort of looney with no sense of propriety? I’m also quite certain that the Chinese, Koreans, and Portuguese don’t put breast milk in their food either.
So, back to reality. In case you’ve never heard of fish sauce, it comes from fermented anchovies and, on its own, tastes and smells like the bubonic plague. You’re supposed to use it sparingly in recipes to add extra umami and salt; I probably used a quarter of a teaspoon.
Here’s the final product that I dumped over my noodles:
As you can see, the consistency resembled oatmeal with a few extra chunks. I know brains are supposed to come out creamy, but this seems a little excessive. Perhaps the quasi-deep-fry caused this. The brains tasted excellent but I won’t cook them again because my arteries won’t let me. Besides which, the brains contained tiny pieces of skull; I don’t think I’d buy brains from that international market again.
My mind wanders to one other topic when I think of eating organ meats. If you go to a regular grocery store, almost no one sells any of this: liver, hearts, brains, intestines, uteri, kidneys, tripe, sweetbreads, rocky mountain oysters. There’s a thing or two I’ve tried and didn’t like and there’s one in particular (uteri) that supposedly tastes horrific. But generally, these are tasty and more nutritious than the fast food so many people eat on a regular basis. They also usually cost less than almost everything in the meat case. And, as far as I know, this stuff gets thrown out with the garbage. (On second thought, maybe it doesn’t end up in the garbage. Possible recipients include the pink slime companies and McDonald’s.)
People following religious dietary guidelines (Jews, Muslims) legitimately avoid organ meats, but I have less understanding for the rest of us. You may be thinking “Oh, that sounds so gross!” If so, I can find you something less gross to eat.
Here, have a puppy.
Seriously, though, what part of a chicken do you think an egg comes from? You’re eating a cute little baby peep every time you make an omelet! And that peep emerged from the least appetizing side of a hen.
I don’t expect organ meats to catch on anytime soon in the United States unless you count the pink slime that goes into so much processed food. At the very least, someone could be donating these animal parts to soup kitchens and homeless shelters. I’m sure the recipients would be grateful for it as long as you don’t tell them what it is. Or maybe even if you do. Last I checked, homeless people tend to be thankful for anything they’re given.
So much waste. If it’s good enough for zombies, it’s good enough for homeless people.